View Poll Results: What aspects would you like to see in a mer RPG? (Pick as many choices as you like)

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  • TRANSFORMATIONS: Full time mers (Little Mermaid)

    41 45.05%
  • TRANSFORMATIONS: Part time mers (H2O)

    62 68.13%
  • GENRE: exclusively fantasy

    25 27.47%
  • GENRE: exclusively science fiction

    5 5.49%
  • GENRE: features both fantasy and science fiction

    56 61.54%
  • TONE: Light (minimal violence and adult themes, G/PG)

    20 21.98%
  • TONE: Medium (average violence and adult themes, PG13/R)

    65 71.43%
  • TONE: Dark (few limits on violence and adult themes, NC17)

    22 24.18%
  • TIME PERIOD: I have a strong preference for what time period the RPG is set in.

    13 14.29%
  • TIME PERIOD: I am somewhat flexible as to when it takes place.

    67 73.63%
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Thread: What would you want in a Mer Role-Playing Game?

  1. #21
    @Malinghi: I know of at least two RPGs, The Everlasting (modern paranormal game about various immortal/undead/extremely-long-lived/reincarnating beings (including fairies, elves, dragons, vampires, angels, revenants, ghuls, questing knights, demigods, gargoyles, totem spirits, nightmares, and Egyptian wizards) who live alongside humans or in extradimensional realms, such as the dream plane, the spirit world, the land of the dead, Heaven, Hell, Faerieland, etc, and how they interact with each other over the centuries of their long lives) and Fortune's Fool, a renaissance game with elves, dwarves, and goblins living openly among humans. Each of them uses the tarot deck in different ways. There are other roleplaying games (such as Castle Falkenstein or Deliria) which use playing cards to determine fate and chance as well.

    Keep in mind, when we design merfolk types, they don't have to be species-based. Ethnicity and inherited traits are but one aspect of a person's character, and it should be the same with mers. Keep in mind that differences could be political, religious (which brings up the questions of God/gods/philosophies that different merfolk groups might follow), cultural, genetic, training/education, occupation, temperamental, economic, or talents/flaws. Obviously, not every one of these traits needs to be considered when creating a character (in the same way that there are plenty of people who don't care about religion or politics, are orphaned/adopted or otherwise unfamiliar with their birth heritage, etc) but some of them might help us get a better idea of what we're looking for. The new World of Darkness games usually feature a faction (some group chosen by the character because it appeals to her, with its own activities or methods distinct from other factions), and a selection of "sub-races" within the family of creatures (different bloodlines of vampires, werewolves originally transformed under different phases of the moon, mages who draw their powers from different magical realms, changelings whose fae bodies have been changed in particular ways, etc), often with another, deeper level of high achievement and greater power for one or both of the previous categories, such as specific mystic orders mages can join, or rare bloodlines for vampires, or noble titles and duties and powers for changelings. The current version of dungeons and dragons features races (human, elf, eladrin, dragonborn, dwarf, tiefling, etc) and classes (fighter, mage, druid, cleric, paladin, warlock, warlord, ranger, rogue, shaman, psion, monk, sorcerer, barbarian, etc) as well as backgrounds (such as talents granted from having a particular family type or growing up in a certain environment) and additional qualities and roles added at higher levels. Deliria features modern character roles (such as child, detective, reporter, parent, police officer, etc) and fairytale archetypes that define the character's style and personality (Beast, Godmother, Muse, Princess, Knight, Waif, etc). Fireborn (a game about ancient dragons reincarnated in the modern world, and regaining their powers and memories as magic slowly returns) features two separate characters (the "Scion" in the modern world, who has an occupation that offers skills and talents and money, and a legendary "sire" - a dragon whose life forms a philosophy for this character (scions of Quetzalcoatl are often creative, while scions of Hydra are dangerous and volatile, for instance) and the Dragon character in the ancient world, who has a "role" based on his actions or attitude towards magic, conquest, treasure, and humans... hoarder, guardian, mystic, warrior, explorer, sage, etc... as well as a "breed" based on a mix of the dragon's body type (serpentine, hulking and bestial, or the the human/avian bodies of "drakes") with the habitat and qualities of the creature (such as a chimerical dragon, exotic dragon, noble dragon, many-headed dragon, sea dragon, spirit dragon, cthonic dragon, dire dragon, fire dragon, ice dragon, forest dragon, etc).

    @Princess Kae-Leah: I am somewhat loathe to make stark definitions and tribal divisions for mers based on eating preferences, sexuality, politics, or other similar divisions, preferring to leave those up to individual mers and their characters (and not promoting stereotypes such as haughty vegetarians/vegans and warlike/cannibalistic carnivores) rather than suggesting that everyone in a particular group possess such traits (though religious sects/temples are perhaps an exception to this personal rule, and ones which can be interesting to explore). Not everyone has a strong stance on the issues of vegetarianism and eating meat, and so such a division might not appeal to everyone. It could, however, be part of your character's particular backstory... maybe she was part of a meat-eating clan in a distant realm, but came to empathize with the animals her family ate, and has come seeking friends and a new family to let her pursue vegetarianism as a way of life. Also, for all we know, human characters (especially, say, pirates) might be favored roles for some of the players, and therefore while suspicion and conflict between the people of the land and the sea might prove interesting story hooks, it probably wouldn't make for appealing characters... at least, not more than one or two people with such decided conflicts with each other.

    On another note, communing with sea life might not be the best way to pursue vegetarianism, as a large number of sea creatures, including dolphins, bony fish, sharks, molluscs, cephalopods, sea stars and jellyfish eat meat/fish/other creatures in some fashion. Ensuring peace and harmony in the cycle of life, however, might very well lead one to follow a vegetarian diet, so as to limit the effect of their own needs on the environment and lifeforms around them... though, again, that has a ring of religion or philosophy (like Buddhism) to it, more than cultural distinction.

    @ everyone:

    I think, if we go this route, we should focus on...
    1. tribes/clans/families (social status, groups and backgrounds)
    2. homewaters (did they grow up in the untamed wilds, a vent, kelp forest, a trench, a reef, a cosmopolitan undersea metropolis, among humans, etc)
    3. species/race (i.e. what type of fish/marine-life tail? or other distinguishing genetic features of merfolk, such as fin-ears, webbed fingers, dorsal fins, camouflage, venom, electric shocks, wing fins, tentacles, etc)
    4. religions/gods (maybe construct a pantheon to encompass different beliefs about the sea, including atheism/agnosticism)
    5. occupations/classes (what the mer learns to do with his life/skills/training, perhaps with some extra examples of focus and talents (a magic-using mermaid, for instance, could be a shipwreck necromancer or a pearl oracle or an water elementalist or a reef druid).

    On the other hand, in order to keep characters as characters, we might want to focus more on their story. The Dresden Files rpg features this character-building series of questions:
    What is your character's High Concept, a brief (generally 2-4 words) summary of what your character is and does, such as "Wizard Private Eye"
    What is your character's Trouble, the thing in her life that causes her to struggle the most, such as "Can't say No" or "Stalked by Mermaid Hunters"
    What is your character's Background, their parents and family, and how does it affect them today, such as "I always carry my mother's necklace" or "Heir to the throne of the Mediterranean Sea"?
    What is your Rising Conflict, the part of your life where things start turning out unusual, such as "You killed my father, prepare to die!" or "My true love was taken by sirens and I want him back" or "I'm turning into a mermaid"?
    What was your first adventure, such as "Rescued a prince who fell overboard in a storm" or "Fell in Love with Odysseus as he sailed past and heard my song, and vowed to leave my sisters to find him"?
    Whose path have you crossed?
    Who else's path have you crossed? (these last two are very good for giving your character history with the other players, especially if you work together to come up with interesting stories about how you met on adventures and helped/hindered each other).

    In the Dresden Files RPG, the different questions (usually the high concept) must reveal what kind of character template (wizard, werewolf, white court vampire, changeling, pure mortal, etc) the character is, but actual abilities and powers and talents and skills are "paid for" from a pool of 9 points per character (at the most magical game settings, at least... less overtly magical settings provide fewer points), with more powerful abilities costing more points, and additional points gained through experience, but I thought it would be helpful to show you guys some more story-focused means of character creation as well.

  2. #22
    I already have a story and persona for my mer-self(posted on my mer-page and the "mermaid personas" thread), but I'm not sure how she would fit in an RPG context. I'll re-post it here, and you can tell me how you think she would work in the RPG:
    Princess Kae-Leah is a gentle, compassionate, sensitive, and loving mermaid princess with a shimmery and shiny purple fishtail from the cool waters of the North Pacific Ocean. She is friends with each and every creature under the sea, and she subsists on a vegetarian diet made up of seaweed and kelp. The fact that leg-walkers are constantly killing her friends and stealing their food makes her very upset indeed, and she dreams of the day when humankind would stop treating her ocean home as a food bank and a sewer. She has a large collection of beautiful pearl necklaces and headdresses made for her by her oyster friends, but she is most commonly sighted wearing a floral lei given to her by the Prince of the South Pacific which matches her tail over a simple pink or lavender bra top.
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 03-12-2012 at 05:23 PM.
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  3. #23
    Keep in mind that a role-playing game implies a few things, including 1. that this is a game you play with other people instead of a personal or computerized group of allies and opponents, and 2. that you play a ROLE within the game and have some strengths and qualities that you are very good at (whether those are physical, social, technical, magical, mental, larcenous, political, natural, spiritual, genetic, athletic, martial, inventive or creative strengths). This means that you're only one of the main characters, not THE main character, and that others have other strengths that can be used to ensure that the group's goals (saving the day, rescuing the prince, getting the lost artifact, uncovering a mystery, stopping a source of pollution, confronting sea monsters, or simply surviving) are met by working together, which might make mersonas as-is slightly unwieldy as rpg characters (since you as a performing mermaid are trying to keep the spotlight on yourself).

    Being a princess implies political and leadership skills, plus duties to a kingdom of sorts, and being either part of a royal family or married to a royal. Being sensitive implies some very good social skills. Being friends with each and every creature of the sea sounds about as implausible as being friends with everyone one passes on the street. Also, does that really include every creature of the sea (sharks, anglerfish, barracuda, giant squid, etc... and how does one befriend a sea urchin... they're not very cuddly)? You might instead decide that you have a powerful empathy with marine life, one that lets you commune with them and perhaps have an animal companion (similar to traditional character classes such as paladin, druid, ranger, or shaman... maybe a hermit of some sort?). The vegetarian diet is fine (though it probably isn't likely to come up in an adventure). Leg-walkers are not constantly killing her friends (even creatures of the sea have good experiences with human sailors, fishermen who return fish to the sea to grow, explorers, divers, marine biologists, surfers, and environmentalists), thought it is hard to argue with the food bank and sewer analogy. You might also need some sort of plant or floral powers to explain why the lei hasn't wilted since the Prince of the South Pacific gave it to her, and you'd probably need some more useful equipment as well, though your clothes and jewelry are a nice touch.

  4. #24
    I think the thing is that my mersona is very Disney-esque, not really thought out with realism in mind. My mersona lives in an underwater world comparably to Disney's TLM or Finding Nemo, where the sea animals are pretty anthromorphosized, although the food chain still exists to some extent, as a natural and necessary part of the ocean ecosystem. I say she's friends with each and every creature of the sea, because my goal as a mermaid is to promote empathy toward marine life, even those who are NOT "cuddly", like sharks, but are very important to the health of the ecosystem. The whole "friends with every sea creature" thing is kind of a Disney Princess kinda thing(remember when Giselle from Enchanted befriended even decidedly uncuddly creatures like rats and cockroaches). I'm a BIG Disney fan, and I'd like to entertain and work with children as my mersona, so of course it's inspired by the type of cartoon underwater universe they are familiar with from films like TLM and Nemo, and NOT gritty reality, but, like you said, perhaps she isn't the best for a serious, adult-oriented RPG, because of that.
    Actually if a mermaid is friends with lots of sea creatures, humans *would* constantly be killing their animal friends(although yes, I don't mean to imply that *all* humans are doing the killing), as overfishing is way out of hand. Nets don't discriminate. Did you know that by some estimates only 15% of what shrimp trawlers catch is shrimp, the rest is bycatch, and that 90% of large predatory fish are gone from the oceans? Many, many marine mammals, sharks, turtles, rays, sea birds, and other animals are killed every year by drift nets, long lines, and bottom trawlers.
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 03-12-2012 at 08:47 PM.
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  5. #25
    @Princess Kae-Leah: It's not that she isn't the best, Princess, it's just that we're trying to do worldbuilding for the game here (character building should come later) and I'm sharing with you some of the ideas to think about in order to convert your character into something that would fit in to the game. It's not even about "gritty reality," but about filling in the character so that she's more three-dimensional (kids are forgiving audiences, and ones not concerned with details, but details are useful when making a character), and disney can give you a number of ideas that you can make flourish.

    Think about it: Giselle, Ariel, Tiana, Rapunzel, Belle, and Jasmine all change over the course of their adventures. Giselle goes from somewhat awkward girl crushing on someone she just met, certain that she know's what's best for people, to a repeated monster-slayer, a good mother figure, a businesswoman, and an inspiration to those around her. Ariel grows from a stubborn girl, frustrating Sebastian and infuriating her father by blowing both of them off to put herself in harm's way, and making dangerous bargains with Ursula for part of what makes her special, to saving Eric from Ursula's trident blast and killing Flotsam and Jetsam in one move and finally convincing her father of her true feelings not through foolish and risky behavior, but through giving Eric time to prove himself a hero and worthy of her in her father's eyes. Tiana goes from all work and no play, unable to stand frogs (and their mucus), to seeing the value of friends and love, and setting aside temptation to save the day. Rapunzel uncovers her hidden memories, grows a will to resist Mother Goethel's emotional bullying, saves Flynn's life with her tear, learns to defend herself (with frying pans and hair lasso), accomplishes her dream, and reunites with her family. Belle stops talking about being different from the townsfolk, tries to convince them of the Beast's good nature, opposes Gaston, breaks free of imprisonment (with Chip's assistance), returns to the castle, and admits her feelings for the Beast. Jasmine spends her time in the start of the movie terrorizing people with Rajah, angering her father, and sneaking out of the palace, before experiencing tragedy (the presumed death of Aladdin when his "sentence was already carried out"), wonder (the magic carpet ride), and tricks Jafar with her seduction act. All of them change over time. All of them have hidden depths, a drive to act when the time is right, courage and defiance and cleverness and perception. All of them have flaws (Jasmine isn't very social, Ariel can't talk and believes Scuttle about the uses of human inventions, Giselle takes awhile to understand the modern world, Tiana is blinded by her own worldview, Belle has trouble understanding people, and Rapunzel is painfully sheltered) and all of them have gifts (Ariel's voice and marine grace, Tiana's drive and willpower, Jasmine's cleverness and ferocity, Giselle's animal communication and luck, Belle's scholarly skills, Rapunzel's people skills and healing hair, etc). On the other hand, some aspects of their characters are a bit passe'... such as needing to be rescued, sacrificing themselves for a boy, being stuck in a tower for their entire lives, etc.

    What you need to do is figure out what your character's strengths are, where she maybe needs help from her friends (whether animal or mer or human), why she acts the way she does, and what her beliefs are, and what she can contribute to the group. Maybe you can convert your mersona into a character, or maybe you'd be more interested in starting from scratch with an unrelated character (this isn't a failure on your part or the part of your mersona... think about it: why be one mermaid when you can be two of them, one in person to entertain your audience, and one in the game to have fun and go on adventures with the other mers here?)

    @Everyone: Should we have a character class system? Should we just let them have jobs (even if they are mer-related jobs, such as dugong shepherd, dolphin wrangler, coral architect, pearl jeweler, shipwreck salvager, concert singer, etc)? Should they have both? Basically, character classes are legendary occupations that make one skilled at certain forms of challenges and combat. With them, mers become more legendary figures. Without them, mers become more "just plain folks". There are advantages to each style.

    Traditional character classes include the following
    Warrior/Fighter - A master of weapons and armor of all sorts
    Priest/Cleric - A mystic who calls on holy power of one or more gods, often to heal or protect allies.
    Mage/Wizard - A master of magic, who studies for long hours and many years to learn the secrets of reality and change it. They have a wide variety of flexibility and versatility in their powers, but need to study in order to use it.
    Rogue - A thief, assassin, or other person who operates outside the laws, or who uses stealth, trickery, and other skills rather than brute force or supernatural power.
    Druid - A mystic of nature, an animal shapeshifter, with animal allies, who can also call on the forces of nature itself in combat.
    Ranger - A hunter, archer, swordsman, and survivalist, who focuses on slaying particular monsters or creatures, and who allies himself with animals.
    Paladin - A holy warrior, blessed with miraculous powers like a priest, but with the armor and strength of a warrior.
    Dark Knight - An unholy warrior, either cursed or claiming powers from demons or the undead, the opposite of a Paladin.
    Warlock/Witch - A spellcaster who draws magic from outside sources, such as spirits, demons, certain gods, fey entities, aliens, etc, in exchange for service to that being. Depending on the being, Warlocks/Witches can have powers that differ wildly from one another's.
    Sorcerer - A spellcaster whose magic, though more limited than that of a mage or warlock, draws power from herself, often from her own spirit or an inhuman bloodline (dragon or elemental ancestors are common) and her own will, manifesting as "superpowers" and abilities more than incantations.
    Barbarian - A tribal warrior and champion, who is strong but avoids wearing armor, instead relying on survival skills, strength and berserk rage to keep them alive as they follow their people's traditions.
    Warlord - A general or leader who guides others, enhances their own strategies with plans and allies and followers.
    Bard - A creative, often musical figure, usually combining the skills of rogues with some magical spells that gain their powers from the Bard's song, instrument-playing, dance, storytelling, or other creative actions. These spells often have more effect on people and creatures than the environment around the bard, and include mental and emotional changes, supporting allies and weakening enemies.
    Shaman - Able to see and speak with the spirits of the natural world, Shamans are mediators between the spirits and their tribes. Many have healing powers and psychic abilities and natural forces at their command, but must rely on spirits to carry out their will.
    Psion - A "spellcaster" whose "spells" are actually the power and science of an extremely advanced mind exerting his or her will on the objects and people around the Psion. Manifests effects from emotional and mental changes, to hidden knowledge, to telekinetic and elemental powers.
    Monk - A martial artist, who spent time in a monastery or shrine, mastering and exceeding the limits of their bodies, and channeling their life energy, ki, chi, or whatever you choose to call it, to manifest amazing feats of martial arts.
    Specialist Wizard - A Mage who, instead of learning all kinds of spells, studies only a specific one (illusions, necromancy, water spells, etc).
    Summoner - A spellcaster who specializes in summoning monsters and spirits and other beings to aid them.
    Merchant - Part Rogue, Part Ranger, Merchants travel a great deal, seeking always to find new markets and make new profits. They need to be able to defend themselves on the road, and they need to be clever and resourceful in cities.
    Noble - A leader of the people, either inherited or raised to that position through their deeds. They often have a wide variety of social skills, mixed with some combat and artistic abilities (dance, sculpture, painting, singing, writing, etc)
    Oracle - A mystic who is devoted to exploring a mystery force, such as the sea, the sun, death, etc. Exploring this mystery grants them insight and a connection to that force, and enables them to serve as mouthpieces of the gods related to that ideal. Like Sorcerers, Oracles often end up being born with their roles, as they are chosen by the gods.
    Cavalier - A mounted warrior who devotes himself to a cause, such as a lord, a temple, a city, knowledge, a code, the common people, a group of friends and allies, their own aggrandizement, etc.
    Alchemist - A chemist who utilizes potions, oils, powders and other chemicals to change themselves and others.
    Artificer - A creator of devices, artifacts, and even robotic creations.
    Inquisitor - A defender of a religion who seeks out enemies of that temple, resists and dispels magic and corruption, and using cleverness and trickery when necessary, in search of greater justice.
    Spellblade - A warrior who is equally skilled with magic, and channels spells through weapons.

    Other options include Ninja, Samurai, Gunslinger, Corsair/Pirate, Mariner, and more specific classes for a particular setting.

    Many games do not have classes, aside from broad strokes (Exalted, for instance, divides its blessed champions according to the particular blessing they've gained, and what skills they are good at; the World of Darkness relies on skills to indicate what occupation a character has; Deliria tries to focus on essential legend of the character and what traditional fairy tale role they fill; Mutants & Masterminds focuses on constructing an individual character through powers and skills and abilities).

  6. #26
    Member Pod of Texas Mia's Avatar
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    Honestly I love classes. They make things so much easier to explain than saying "here's what all I can do", most characters eventually fall into one of the classes more than the others, and for people just getting into gaming they are good guidelines. Plus, for those who don't really fill a party role, it can help define the character as used in the game.

  7. #27
    Good point, Mia. I wonder though... maybe classes should be optional... they grant benefits, but also limit the character, and they take a great deal of practice and devotion... maybe having a class sets one apart as a master (even if they're fairly young) while everyone else can be more open and generalize, developing their talents free-form?

  8. #28
    Could use guilds instead of classes - so you can belong to a guild and gain experience etc towards that attribute/occupation, then change to another one etc. Works quite well in a lot of RPGs I like the class/guild/characteristics kind of structure, but then I'm a happy text based RPG playing geek!

  9. #29
    Most RPG's using traditional classes allow leveling up as a different class or other cross-class development.


  10. #30
    @Alveric: True, but those that don't use classes use experience points to improve or gain abilities bit by bit, instead of relying on a leveling structure to determine ability and strength.

    @Taniwha: That is an interesting idea... maybe a guild, an order, or a school of some sort might provide different memberships and abilities as a possibility.

  11. #31
    Religion and Politices: the two big conversations. How what aspects of each should mers have?

    Being a mythology fan, I favor the idea of a pantheon of mer gods, but I can also see Buddhist Mers, Daoist Mers, Christian Mers (especially after the story of the mermaid and the priest that I mentioned on the other thread), Voodoo Mers, and more Native American spirit-revering Mers. Gods could be represented by different kinds of sea life (maybe, in a variant of Egyptian gods, they appear as mers with seahorse, orca, dolphin, shark, angelfish, anglerfish, octopus, and crab heads), or different parts of the ocean (the Arctic God, the Wave God, the Trench God, the Vent God, the Reef God, the Tempest God, the Doldrum God, the Tide God, the Monsoon God, the Tsunami God, the Current God, etc) or some emotional/ideological theme related to mers/the sea (Dreams, Love, Death, Life, Beauty, Magic, Mischief, Darkness, Fortune, War, Fear, etc) or some mix of them all (the God of the Waves and Mischief is also the god of Dolphins, the Angelfish goddess is also the goddess of Beauty and Reefs, etc). Or maybe the gods should be like saints or Buddhas or various Pharaohs or Roman Emperors, enlightened mer-figures who achieved so much and lived life according to their principles that they were apotheosised into gods? Or perhaps a mix, where maybe the gods representing different natural elements should have always been gods, but more human concepts arose to godhood? In my Aegir's Cove rpg, I have the elements according to their relation with the mers (Sea, Land, Sky, Sun, and Moon) as remote and powerful gods, while the children of the Sea god each represent a different kind of marine life (air-breathing marine mammals/reptiles/birds/amphibians, crustaceans/urchins/shellfish, jellyfish/nudibranchs/cephalopods, hunting sharks/skates/rays/barracuda/anglerfish/deep-sea fish, and often-tropical bony fish, respectively) and are more personal and approachable (every mer is chosen by one of the Children of the Sea in a rite of passage that makes them full members of society, depending on the creature they derive their tails from).

    I know that mermaid princesses and princes and sea kings (and, I suppose, Sea Queens) are popular images in mer-lore, but I'm reticent to have a totalitarian monarch, and I don't think every character should be a member of the royal family. I think we probably should have different city-states for various mers, in order to allow for some form of constitutional monarchy, perhaps a theocracy (like the Vatican or Tibet), nomadic/barbarian mers ruled by various chieftains, maybe a university city (possibly a magocracy), a high council, an enemy totalitarian monarchy, etc. We might also have to come up with different cities... possibly Ancient Greek architecture, High-tech (maybe Atlantean), drifting cities carved from the undersides of icebergs, cities built from shipwrecks, or sunken human ruins, or carved from giant pearls, or constructed with shells or coral, or woven together in the Sargasso Sea, or built out of the bones of leviathans, or vent cities with tube-worm gardens, a realm in the far East with Japanese or Chinese or Malaysian architecture, an Arabian City with a lively bazaar and great onion towers, etc.

    Should we use actual names of sunken realms? Guinee, Ville Au Camp, Lyonnesse, Ys, Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, Tir fo Thuinn, Mag Mell, etc? Or shall we make up new ones?

  12. #32
    A population as thin and scattered as Mers would probably not have a powerful central government. Nomadic tribes or pods would be most likely.

    Some times I think we're overthinking this. A game-master, a simple set of rules and a means of communicating together is what we need most. I'm willing to let the GM make up the religion and politics bits.

    I like the idea of it being based on a pre-existing mythos, either fictional or legendary with the GM free to deal with the details.


  13. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Alveric View Post
    A population as thin and scattered as Mers would probably not have a powerful central government. Nomadic tribes or pods would be most likely.

    Some times I think we're overthinking this. A game-master, a simple set of rules and a means of communicating together is what we need most. I'm willing to let the GM make up the religion and politics bits.

    I like the idea of it being based on a pre-existing mythos, either fictional or legendary with the GM free to deal with the details.

    That begs the question of whether mers are actually a thin and scattered population... especially given the fact that the oceans cover more of Earth than land does, and there are depths and regions which even our technology can't reliable explore.

    We probably ARE overthinking things, I agree, but a cooperatively-constructed game universe does have some benefits over a game designed by a single GM.

    I am curious... for the four people who voted about the specific time period, what time periods would you want?

  14. #34
    Here are some ideas for organizations, complete with their full titles, nicknames (often mocking ones) from the rest of mer society, and a description. We can take and leave all of them, but I figured they were a good starting point.

    The Figurehead Consorts – “Barnacles” - Surface-level mers who accompany (and act like) ships and seafarers, acting as part of the crew, whether naval, mercantile, or pirate. They get their nickname because other mers claim they latch onto the “scurvy sea dogs” like Barnacles in search of high adventure.

    The Serene Cloister – “Hermit Crabs” - Deep-dwelling empaths who promote harmony between all creatures of the sea, but who are able to fight using a sort of martial arts that stimulate pain receptors, incapacitating without doing permanent harm. They get their nickname because of their habit of leading reclusive, peaceful lives, as well as their impregnable defenses and martial arts, much like being armed with claws and carrying a shell everywhere.

    The Nautilus – “Shellshockers” - Sorcerers who explore the mysteries of innate magic, using the spiral of the nautilus as their analogy for the discovery and masteries of their own abilities.

    The Furstriders – “Sea Liars” - Merfolk who master the painful art of shifting from human to mer form, often due to a mixed heritage or love of a human. They use a focus, such as a skin, hat, girdle, or shoes to enable their powers, but if that focus is lost, they are stranded in their current form. Their mer forms do not have to be seal-like, though. Their nickname is a play on “sea lions,” and the idea that a mer who believes (s)he can be or live among humans is deluding themselves.

    The Order of the Seahorse – “Sea Dragons” - A noble order of knights, paladins, priests, and warrior-mystics who argue that just as male seahorses carry the young and grip on to the most fragile strands of seaweed, so too must this order defend the innocent and gentle and hold fast to their codes of honor and justice. Their nickname is a play on the traditional image of knights fighting dragons, as well as their seahorse rampant symbol on their banners and shields.

    The Urchin Brigade – “Pufferfish” - Mers who practice self-reliance, favor the use of various armors and weapons (especially spiked armor and Morningstar flails). They are often found doing mercenary work. Because they tend to be huge, well-built, well-armored, and spiky, they’ve earned the nickname “pufferfish.”

    The Sharkwardens – “Dogfish” - Mer rangers and hunters and scouts who live off the land, commune with the wild, and take down dangerous sea monsters before they even approach civilization, they also protect endangered species and ensure that predators don’t get out of control. They’ve earned their nickname for their excellent tracking skills, though it is also a mockery of their symbol, the Shark, arguing that the lands they watch over are shrinking rapidly thanks to encroachment by the city states and human interference.

    The Starfish Magi – “Brittle Stars” - Wizards and scholars who pursue magical power and uncover the secrets of the reality. They have a duty to either accept any 1-3 apprentices who approach them, find another magus of the school to teach prospective students, or teach classes at the Serpent Star Academy… but are otherwise unrestricted by society or moral concerns. Their nickname comes from their reputation for being brilliant, but living scholarly lives, and therefore being rather fragile and physically weak.

    The Wanderers of Pearls – “Sand Dollars” - A guild of travelers, merchants, mystics, and gypsies who wander the land, searching for and selling fortunes. Their rules and culture are intricate and varied, but they help them survive, and plentiful coins cover the rest. It is no secret where their name comes from… rumor has it “Sand Dollars” will do anything for coin, much less pearls.

    The Anemone Ring – “Clownfish” – Druidic and shamanic kahunas and witches who draw their powers from natural sources in exchange for living in their chosen environment and worshipping the spirits (usually totemic animal spirits) of that region. They are able to take on animal forms, and summon animals to their aid, as well as manifesting spirits and raw elemental power. Nobody dares mention their nickname where they or their spirits could hear it, for though the residents of the City States might consider them colorful and amusing environmentalists and mystic nuts, they are very powerful, and few can survive the anemone’s sting.

    The Church of Jonah Whaledancer – “Angelfish” – Worshippers of a Judeo-Christian religion they learned from mortals, these priests and priestesses possess access to many holy powers, but face opposition both from the faithless among their own ranks and the rest of merfolk society. Legend claims that they were founded when a beautiful, seductive mermaid approached a human priest, asking if it was possible that her soul could be saved as he had preached to his human flock. He claimed that it was more likely that his weathered old walking stick would take root and flower than a mermaid enter his religion’s heaven… and to his surprise, the staff did sprout new growth! The mermaid dove into the water at the sight of the miracle, taking one fruit from the staff with her, and founded the Church of Jonah Whaledancer. Their nickname comes from their belief that higher spirits watch over all life, and that faithful and charitable churchmembers will someday become these spirits… and rumors have it that some of them have managed to “evolve” into “angels” in their lifetime, before witnesses.

    The Temple of Ten Thousand Tears – “Catfish” – An alliance of temples of the merfolk’s polytheistic deities. The tears of the name refer to tears of sorrow, anger, pain, joy, and the other emotions inspired by the gods. The Catfish are more accepting than the Angelfish, more relaxed than the Hermit Crabs, and more concerned with caring for and leading merfolk than with animals or spirits, unlike the Clownfish. Their powers are varied, depending on their specific god or goddess, but all of them have some measure of power for healing or harming, controlling or banishing abominations and undead in addition to the powers of their god/dess. They are referred to as “Catfish” because their goal, to make every mer religion to work together for the good of the mer (and their gods, of course), is about as likely as herding catfish.

    The Stingray Guild – “Devilfish” – Every City State has at least one branch of this guild, and even the wilderness isn’t free of these scoundrels, thieves, assassins, bandits, and other ne’er-o-wells. The Devilfish, despite their nickname, aren’t (necessarily) evil, per se, but they do put themselves first, have little respect for any force of law or morality, conflict with the Barnacles for choice plunder, and generally make life miserable for the Sand Dollars. However, if you need something done, quickly, quietly, stealthily and right, or need something recovered, rescued, stolen, or de-trapped, the Stingray Guild is the go-to guild… if you can find them.

    The Conch Minstels – A guild of bars, troubadors, storytellers, dancers, and other entertainers, they are united in their devotion to their arts, music, and getting the biggest audience. Rumor has it that sirens cannot outsing the “Noisemakers,” and immediately retreat in the presence of one of these minstrels bearing the mark of the conch shell.

    The Cuttlefish Caliphate – A culture of storytellers, merchants, wizards and sorcerers, assassins and strange warriors from tropical waters, they are ruled by the great Caliph, Defender of the Faithful, May-She-Live-Forever, Badr-al-Budur, the Full Moon of Full Moons. Magic thrives in the Caliphate… like their imperial animal, the entire city’s streets, colors, and appearances change overnight, though whether this is actual transformation or illusion, none can say.

    Here are some ideas for mer nations... I stuck to the idea of city-states, rather than countries, to keep with the adventuring mindset.

    The Leatherback Nations – Eschewing the crowds and noise and restrictions of the City States, the Leatherback Nation are tribes that wander the wild lands between mer civilizations, living through strength, tradition, the guidance of the spirits, and through sheer defiance and rage.

    Dreadnought – “Hagfish” – A vast city state constructed entirely of bones, it is home not only to merfolk, but to the restless dead, lost at sea, and ghosts and ghouls swim in its mazelike corridors alongside. Dark Nights, drawing on unholy powers, and malevolent witches and warlocks swim through the skeletal city as well.

    The Dragon Empire of Black Jade – A city state in the far Eastern waters, it is home to many of the titular beasts, long serpentine monsters with whiskers and pearls in their foreheads. The dragons are shapeshifters, and have mixed their bloodlines with the people of their empires, and so the people of the Empire have a number of surprising abilities. The Serene Cloister has a number of connections with these merfolk.

    Ville Au Camp – The colorful city of fishes that exists both above and below a chain of islands, there are no humans, but a class of sorcerers and wizards and witches shares power with the class of soldiers and merchants, each sending members to a council.

    Etlontyss – The City State of Technology, it glows with lights, even in the darkest reaches of the ocean. Protected by force fields and automatons, defended by laser constructs and traveled by levitating platforms and teleportation gates, the Etlontyans are gifted with brilliant minds and powerful psychic talents, but their sense of fashion includes unusual uses of chemicals and body modifications to transform their features into outlandish colors and designs.

    Poliahu – The wandering city of ice, each building is sculpted in the submerged sections of icebergs. The mers of Poliahu know that life is difficult, and that they must all work together to survive the bitter cold of their native waters, wasting nothing.

    La Doge – A sunken mortal city, home to canals, strangely carved vessels, beautiful sculptures, arching bridges, and vast plazas. No mers live in La Doge full time, but several large “towns” live in the surrounding sea floor, and enter the city in masks and costumes for grand pageants and lavish celebrations on holy days. It is said that, when it was above the water, the humans of La Doge had made their city the most glorious on the planet, but that the sea fell in love with the city as it flowed through its canals, and embraced it, bringing La Doge to its current submerged location.

    Tir fo Thuinn – The waters around Tir fo Thuinn are strange… the local corals and seaweed have some unusual chemicals in them that slow aging. Even the most ancient residents of Tir fo Thuinn appear extremely youthful.

    Here are some ideas for other
    Aegiea – A greco-roman mer city.

    Tangaroa – A Hawaiian city state

    Sargasso? - A city state suspended in a region like the sargasso sea.

    Pearl City? - A City carved from enormous pearls.

    Coral City? - A city grown and sculpted by coral artists.

    Shipwreck City? - A city constructed entirely from sunken ships.

  15. #35
    Wow. That's a lot of information. But, from the sister of an avid game player (my lil bro), I don't really think you guys are OVER thinking it. The details are what makes it fun, the details are what bring people into the game. If star wars didn't have two trilogies and side stories along the way, it would be a bit boring mainly from the lack of detail. They have books about the species and droids and ships and people buy these books to help keep the details in place because it's the details that make it fun. Truthfully, I think I would love this game if you guys could make it. The classes thing? Totally awesome idea. With all the different types you listed, I don't see how anyone COULD feel restricted. The pods (which I merely skimmed through. Sorry) look really neat and I think it's really cool how you can think this up. I say go for it (whatever you plan on doing with these plans)
    Hugs, fishes, and mermaid kisses!

  16. #36
    Epic is all I have to say. I hope we can start playing soon

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  17. #37
    Hmm... ok, there is clearly interest in different origins for merfolk. Some people are interesting in merfolk who were born as such, while others are more interested in humans who become mers in some way. There is also interest in darker, more animalistic merfolk (particularly mermaids, for some reason... I'm not sure how much call there is for feral mermen). This gave me an idea... what if there are three main origins for merfolk:

    1. Born Mers - With at least one mer parent, born mers grow up in merfolk society and are familiar with the different cultures there, but humanity has less meaning to them, except as an object of curiosity. They probably have more skills and training relating to merfolk society.

    2. Transformed Humans - Whether they are actually transformed (underwent extreme plastic surgery or genetic manipulation to replace legs with a tail and add gills; experienced a magical ritual or object such as the shoes in Lighthouse Island or the pool in Mako Island in H2O: Just Add Water; were possessed by or bonded with a sea spirit; or transformed by a spell) or naturally metamorphosed (like in The Thirteenth Year, where the mer in question was born human-looking and only manifested fins, scales, water breathing, etc around puberty or some other milestone... this might be a genetic quirk of certain families of mers, a sign that merfolk and humans share a common evolutionary background, or an unusual and rare, but not unheard of genetic mutation), the character probably is "in over her head" when it comes to mer culture, relying on myths and legends instead of facts and etiquette, yet viewing the wonders of the undersea world with wide-open eyes (the way tourists to New York look up at the skyscrapers and other monuments, while New Yorkers turn evasion on crowded sidewalks and keeping their eyes down into an art form) and being more familiar with human culture and inventions. This category might also include mers who were enchanted in some way, and turned into humans to live life on land (for whatever reason... safety, cultural rapport, cruelty) but broke the spell, knowingly or unknowingly.

    3. (This is a possibility... it is at once creepy and primal, which might be uncomfortable. Your thoughts would be appreciated) Transformed from fish. For a more alien mindset, better instincts and a dark attitude towards what constitutes "food," this is a possibility. An example of these kind of mers would be the ones from Peter and the Starcatchers (the first book). However, there is also the Chinese myth about how koi fish that leap up a waterfall in a suitably impressive way were transformed into Chinese Dragons, and I was thinking that a similar test of merit and ability might provide an origin for these mers.

    Ideally, all three (or the first two, if the formerly fish merfolk idea is a bit too hard to swallow) origins should be possible as options, and each should provide different benefits in the forms of different skills, talents, and specialties, though probably not any different powers or tail designs. It might be necessary to make different backgrounds and "classes" for each of the three origins.

    Which brings me to another question: what powers should different mers have? Traditional abilities include the power to turn into human form, the power to turn into the form of their species' tail, metamorphic powers (i.e. being able to change their appearance in a number of ways, usually remaining humanoid or sireniform, but excellent for disguise), healing, granting wishes, enchanting song, controlling water, controlling the winds, controlling weather, summoning and controlling and communicating with sea life, superstrength, incredible speed while swimming, merging with the water/assuming a watery form, granting good or bad luck (particularly at sea), casting spells, calling on spirits or gods of the sea, communing with nautical ghosts, telepathy (all the better for communicating without being able to speak conventionally underwater), seeing the future, sensing treasure, and other powers according to their "tail" (extra limbs and color changing for octopus mers, echolocation for dolphin/orca mers, hunting senses for shark mers, claws for lobster mers, electric shocks for eel mers, etc). Are there any abilities that people are particularly interested in featuring, or ones that you think are too outrageous to take seriously?

  18. #38
    I think powers should increase with level (age/study maybe?) and should be tied to the organisations you mentioned above. And/or areas (Mers from certain areas have a particular set of talents) which I think could be easily worked in with the characteristics you have described for the nations above. Would probably end up tying area to classes (spellcasters, healers, warriors etc) but this could also be an advantage if there is any party play (quests etc) you would need to find members from areas other than your own. So some could be intrinsic to the area, and others could be gained in other ways maybe? Also some could possibly be incompatible

    I do like the idea of fish/mers - as in something feral and dangerous that exists in this world. I don't know if I'd play one, but I like the darkness and realism it would bring. Everything having a flip side.

  19. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post
    I do like the idea of fish/mers - as in something feral and dangerous that exists in this world. I don't know if I'd play one, but I like the darkness and realism it would bring. Everything having a flip side.
    Ditto this.
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  20. #40
    Taking into account the three varieties of merfolk discussed above, I figured we'd need three categories of basic starting occupations, one for each. I tried to make these classes basic and open-ended, allowing a lot of customization and characterization, while summarizing their basic talents. In all cases, one can select multiple classes (indeed, some of the traditional fantasy roles include mixes of the ones described here, some fish use a mix of different feeding strategies, and plenty of people have different jobs/interests/hobbies/skills). Some starting character class ideas include the following...

    CLASSES FOR FORMERLY-FISH MERFOLK: For these, I figured that their early lives would involve food and survival, and so I designed their classes accordingly.

    *Lurer - Like the cuttlefish or anglerfish, this mermaid learned how to lure in other creatures in some way as fish, and have used that same strategy now that they're endowed with greater intelligence, communication, and humanoid features.

    *Devourer - The most direct hunters, often larger fish and sea mammals which attack and eat their prey using strength and speed, now among the more combat-capable merfolk.

    *Concealer - Like stonefish and flounder and eels, this kind of merman has learned to hide or camouflage himself, sneaking up on prey or waiting for them to come close, before striking from his concealment. Now that they can communicate, concealers have become just as deadly at politics as they are at hunting.

    *Scavenger - Originally sea life which didn't hunt, but scavenged, they are capable, watchful, and alert... but they're also surprisingly interested in peacemaking. They are patient and can wait, and know not to play their hand (now that they have hands) too soon.

    *Symbiont - Like Cleaner Wrasses and Remoras, Symbionts know how to work together with others for mutual benefit... they are also among the most well-groomed of the wild formerly fish merfolk.

    *Gatherer - Herbivorous fish turned into merfolk, many of them stick to their dietary patterns, and focus on defense and escape from predators, and competition with other Gatherers for food.

    *Manipulator - Not as bad as their title sounds... possibly... Manipulators were those creatures such as Sea Otters, Dolphins, and Octopi, who are familiar with the use of tools to achieve their ends... many have a reputation with being skilled with weapons or magic... or both.

    *Strainer - Sea life such as baleen whales and whale sharks who eat plankton and other life by straining the water, strainers are hard workers with a good use of time, often with great strength and endurance.

    CLASSES FOR BORN MERFOLK: For these, I wanted to take the traditional fantasy roles, but leave them open-ended and flexible, summed up with a flavor descriptor ending in -al for similarity.

    Social - Social merfolk are masters of communication, conversation, and interaction. They know people, and often are in the know about much that goes on in the mer communities... they are also masters of getting their way through social interactions, and many social merfolk are among the most beautiful and seductive. Social mers can become diplomats, merchants, wanderers, bards, and tempters.

    Regal - Aristocrats and nobles, commanders and leaders, these merfolk don't socialize per se, but they do command, using the force of their charisma and authority to get others to work together in a harmonious manner. Regal merfolk can become warlords, nobles, merchants, teachers, and religious figures.

    Martial - The masters of combat, martial merfolk learn a variety of methods of attack and defense, and their bodies are fit and well-trained. Some master particular weapons and armor, performing impossible feats that make their weapons/armor seem like an extension of themselves, while others use a variety, becoming versatile juggernauts and capable soldiers. Martial merfolk can become warriors, monks, paladins, dark knights, barbarians, cavaliers, spellblades, gunslingers, pirates, samurai and more.

    Magical - Magic is a mysterious force with many variations, and magical merfolk are the ones who truly explore it and seek to uncover its secrets, whether focusing on one path, or trying to take on them all. Magical merfolk can become magi, sorcerers, psions, druids, priests, oracles, spellblades, necromancers, shamans, warlock/witches, bards, summoners, alchemists, specialist wizards, illusionists, enchanters, elementalists, shapeshifters, and even inquisitors.

    Environmental - Nature and the oceans are powerful, primordial forces, and the creatures that dwell in them have many abilities that make those of merfolk seem mundane. Environmental merfolk use their environment, animals, plants, and the elements to their advantage, communing with them and mediating between other mers and these primal forces. Some focus on a particular environment (including urban ones), or animal companion/type, or element, but others are adaptable and capable with all of them. Environmental merfolk can become rangers, scouts, hunters, druids, shamans, magi, elementalists, shapeshifters, priests and barbarians.

    Intellectual - Those who turn to scholarly pursuits, Intellectuals are masters of learning. This can also extend to other areas, however, so it is not unusual for intellectual merfolk to become magi, priests, oracles, warlocks/witches, specialist wizards, alchemists, artificers, scribes, teachers, strategists, and warlords.

    Criminal - Those merfolk who use trickery, grace, luck, stealth, assassination, acrobatics or larcenous talents for their own benefit... which might be a positive benefit for society, as many guards and investigators and officers are trained in these talents as well to uncover the truth behind crimes. Criminal merfolk might become thieves, rogues, bards, assassins, black knights, guards, investigators, inquisitors, sorcerers, warlocks/witches, warriors, rangers, barbarians, psions, monks, merchants, ninja, acrobats, and pirates.

    Spiritual - Those merfolk who have faith... in something, and draw on that faith to grant them supernatural powers. Many of them differ according to what they are faithful in, but might become priests, druids, shamans, paladins, black knights, psions, monks, ninja, assassins, oracles, inquisitors, warlocks/witches, sorcerers, magi, specialist wizards, bards, cavaliers, artificers, alchemists, samurai and summoners.

    Technological - The study and use of technology differs in various mer cultures, but it remains a fascinating and useful area of expertise. Whether building, repairing, designing, or channeling scientific concepts, the technologicals fit the bill. They might become artificers, alchemists, magi, specialist wizards, gunslingers, rogues, bards, oracles, merchants, psions and warriors.

    Medicinal - Those merfolk who study the properties of different substances and their effects on the body, usually for healing purposes. Medicinal merfolk can become priests, magi, specialist wizards, elementalists, druids, assassins, rogues, alchemists, shamans, or warlocks/witches.

    Musal - Those merfolk who follow the paths of the arts, whether visual, musical, dramatic, mystical, religious, emotional or scientific. Musal merfolk can become bards, monks, psions, sorcerers, magi, specialist wizards, shamans, priests, druids, warlocks/witches, alchemists, artificers, merchants, nobles, spellblades, rogues, and warriors.

    CLASSES FOR FORMERLY-HUMAN MERFOLK: Really, I thought about coming up with different roles for people, but you all are more aware of the different jobs, fandoms, and interests out there than I am, most likely. Any possibility you can come up with, so long as it offers skills and training/passion should be sufficient, and some make for some very unlikely (but interesting) merfolk.

    What do you all think?

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